A devastating blow for the Copa Libertadores holders as Juanfer Quintero of River Plate is injured. With an estimated recovery time of between six and eight months, Marcelo Gallardo must find a way to replace his star player.
With four goals in his last eight games, River Plate not only lose their most talented player but an important goal contributor at the same time.
Faced with this situation, Marcelo Gallardo must dig deep in his locker to find a way to successfully replace Quintero. Whether he looks to the academy to replace the Colombian or tweak the system tactically remains to be seen. Interesting times await.
The two remaining games to finish the Superliga Argentina, alongside the four remaining Copa Libertadores fixtures are vitally important for River Plate. So, whatever Gallardo opts to do, he has to get it right.
With Quintero in the Superliga
Of the last 10 games (Superliga and Libertadores), Quintero started seven games, entered as a substitute in one and scored four goals. Of those eight games in which he played minutes, River Plate won four and drew the other four. In the remaining two games, in which Quintero did not play, River Plate won. So, naturally, all is not lost without Quintero, however, as we look, he is crucial to the way they play.
In the classic against Racing Club, River Plate played 4-3-1-2 with the Colombian as the driver and a line of three behind him. The game was widely favourable for River Plate.
In the match against Banfield, River Plate played 4-2-2-2, Nacho Fernández with Quintero. They split the work between them, driving at speed and just generally being a nuisance, as well as feeding Suárez and Borre. The match ended 1-1, Quintero scoring River Plate’s only goal of the game and being arguably their best player.
With Quintero in the Libertadores
River Plate played two games and drew them both, one against Alianza Lima, the other against Palestino of Chile.
Quintero played both games, despite this, he wasn’t at his best.
Against Palestino, Quintero played as part of a three behind Borre and irrespective of his efforts, River Plate were unable to successfully break down the Chilean side, much to the frustration of their supporters.
No Quintero on the pitch
River Plate beat Newell’s 4-2 and Atletico Tucuman 1-0, both matches were played in the domestic league.
Against Newell’s, Marcelo Gallardo surprised with a 3-1-4-2, with a defensive line of three men, Zuculini in holding midfield and with the advanced quartet of Mayada, Perez, Ferreira and De la Cruz in behind Suarez and Pratto.
Against Atletico Tucuman, in a key game for Copa Libertadores 2020 qualification, River Plate played 4-3-3, won 1-0 and Quintero entered in the 67th minute for Scocco.
Marcelo Gallardo rotates tactics and players
As we see, Gallardo has no problems constantly changing tactical systems. Providing his team are able to recycle the ball and play a good brand of style, the River Plate supremo will be happy.
While it’s a blow to River Plate, Gallardo has a number of different options available to him.
Cristian Ferreira is the first option in a 3-4-1-2 or in a 4-3-1-2, he would be the one. Be that as it may, Ferreira is still wet behind the ears and would perhaps be more suited to having players next to him, rather than playing on his own.
Another option is a classic 4-4-2 with the two holding midfielders as Ponzio and Zuculini and two wide men as Nacho Fernandez and De La Cruz or Ferreira, but River Plate would lose a lot play in the middle of the park, thus ruining their overall play.
Gallardo has multiple options to replace Quintero, looking at mixing and matching his tactical systems based on the opposition might be his best bet.
We agree that the Colombian has been fundamental in River Plate’s last matches, but not exclusive in a team that has other players of experience and excellent youth to replace him.
The tactical wisdom of both the coach and more experienced players like Ponzio and Enzo Perez will be fundamental factors when it comes to not missing Juanfer Quintero. The audacity and daring nature of the young Ferreira will also add another dimension of possibilities to Gallardo’s artillery.
No matter the tactical system used, the squad will need to learn to cope without Quintero and looking at the options that they’ve got, perhaps it won’t be as bad as was first thought.
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